Japan-North Korea Relations
Japan-North Korea Relations (Overview)

November 20, 2015

Japan's basic policy on North Korea

Japan seeks to normalize its relations with North Korea, in accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, through comprehensively resolving outstanding issues of concern such as the abductions, nuclear and missile issues as well as settlement of the unfortunate past.

Abductions issue

During the 1970’s and 1980’s, a string of incidents occurred involving the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea. The Government of Japan has so far identified 17 Japanese citizens as abductees.

In September 2002, North Korea admitted that it had abducted Japanese citizens and apologized , while promising to prevent any further recurrence. In October of that year, five abductees returned to Japan. As for the rest of the Japanese abductees, Pyongyang has yet to provide any acceptable explanation, despite North Korea’s explicit commitment at the Japan-DPRK Summit Meeting in May 2004 to immediately resume thorough investigations to obtain a full account. North Korea has not provided any satisfactory account or convincing evidence for its assertions regarding the abductions issue, and therefore, the Government of Japan finds them unacceptable.

The abductions of Japanese citizens are a critical issue concerning the sovereignty of Japan and the lives and safety of Japanese citizens. Without the resolution of this issue, there can be no normalization of relations between Japan and North Korea. The Government of Japan is fully committed to making its utmost efforts to realize the return of all abductees to Japan as quickly as possible.

Security Issues

Following the two missile launches conducted in 2012, North Korea carried out a nuclear test in February 2013 and repeatedly launched ballistic missiles in 2014 and 2015 in violation of the UN Security Council resolutions.

North Korea’s continued nuclear and missile development poses a grave threat not only to the region but also to the entire international community. Japan will continue to closely coordinate with countries concerned including the U.S., the ROK, China and Russia in urging North Korea to refrain from any further provocation and to take concrete actions toward denuclearization and other goals in compliance with the Six-Party Talks Joint Statement and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

Recent Developments

(1)March 3, 2014:Japan-North Korea Red Cross Meeting (in Shenyang)
The Japanese and North Korean Red Crosses exchanged views regarding the issues of the remains of Japanese nationals who passed away in North Korea around 1945.
Taking the opportunity, Japan and North Korea held unofficial working-level talks, exchanging views regarding the issues of the remains of Japanese nationals, and the current Japan-North Koera relations.
(2)March 19-20, 2014: Japan-North Korea Red Cross Meeting (in Shenyang)
Experts of Japan and North Korea discussed at a working level on the remains of Japanese nationals who passed away in North Korea around 1945.
Taking the opportunity, Japan and North Korea held unofficial working-level talks and decided to start coordination for the resumption of the Japan-North Korea Government-level Consultations.
(3)March 30-31, 2014: Japan-North Korea Government-level Consultations (in Beijing)
Japan and North Korea had consultations in a frank and candid manner to settle the outstanding issues of concern. Both sides decided to continue consultations.
Japan lodged a strong protest against North Korea concerning the launch of ballistic missiles.
Japan expressed its regret towards the statement issued by the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that North Korea would not rule out the possibility of a new form of nuclear test.
(4)May 26-28, 2014: Japan-North Korea Government-level Consultations (in Stockholm)
Japan and North Korea decided to take actions including;
North Korea will conduct comprehensive and full-scale investigations on all Japanese nationals and establish the Special Investigation Committee invested with special authority to conduct investigations over all the institutions.
Japan will lift part of its measures at the point of time when North Korea establishes the Special Investigation Committee and starts its investigations.
(5)July 1, 2014: Japan-North Korea Government-level Consultations (in Beijing)
Following the consultations held in May, North Korea explained the details of the Special Investigation Committee.
Japan lodged a strong protest against North Korea concerning the launch of ballistic missiles.
(6)July 4, 2014:
North Korea released the details of the Special Investigation Committee and announced the launch of the investigations by the Special Investigation Committee.
Japan lifted part of its measures in accordance with the Consultations in May.
(7)September 29, 2014: Meeting between Diplomatic Authorities (in Shenyang)
North Korea explained that Japan would be able to hear clearer explanation, if a Japanese delegation visits Pyongyang to meet with the members of the Special Investigation Committee.
(8)October 28-29, 2014: Consultations with the Special Investigation Committee (in Pyongyang)
Japan received detailed explanation on the current status of the investigation from North Korea, emphasized its firm position that the abductions issue is most important, and urged North Korea to expeditiously conduct the investigation and to sincerely report the results.
(9) August 6, 2015: Meeting with the Foreign Minister of North Korea Ri Su-Yong (in Kuala Lumpur)
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who was visiting Malaysia to attend the ASEAN-related Foreign Ministers' Meetings, held a meeting with Foreign Minister Ri Su-Yong of North Korea based on the instruction by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with the primary purpose of directly working on North Korea towards the resolution of the abductions issue.
Minister Kishida conveyed Japan's concerns, while requiring North Korea to fulfill the agreement in May 2014, and strongly urged North Korea to return all the abductees at the earliest possible date. In response, Minister Ri Su-Yong explained that the Special Investigation Committee was faithfully conducting investigations based on the agreement in Stockholm.